Given that babies have grown inside a mother’s womb, surrounded by the amniotic fluid; they are well adjusted and comfortable in a watery environment. Because of this, babies arrive into the world without in-built fears of water. The transition into external water experiences like baths and showers; if conducted in a warm, caring and nurturing manner; should be a pleasant and natural experience.
Bath and shower time are a wonderful time to build a trusting relationship between parent and baby - it’s a special time where bonding takes place without disruption from the outside world.
The initial months in the bath and shower are important in allowing baby to feel at ease and at one with the water. Always remember - the more relaxed and at ease you feel, the more relaxed baby will feel. Go slow, take your time and enjoy this special experience.
Conditioning plays an important role in teaching the baby to hold their breath on command. If done correctly in a calm and nurturing way, the baby should feel at ease when water is put on the face and will show small signs of responding to the cue quite quickly. Your instructor will take you through all of this when you come for lessons but here is some information about how you can also condition your child outside of lessons.
- Conditioning a baby should only be done 2-3 times per day during bath or shower time, provided baby is happy and content and showing no signs of distress.
- When we teach baby breath control on command it is done by using a small amount of water cupped in the palm of your hand and dripped from the forehead down – as if you were wiping baby’s face with a wet washer.
- Consistency with the trigger words is key. We say “Name - Ready, Go” before putting the water over baby’s face. Always use positive reinforcement afterwards, congratulating baby and praising them with a soft soothing wipe over the face.
- It is important to ensure that your physical and verbal cueing remains rhymical and consistent, free from hesitation. Babies tend to pick up on an adult’s body language. If baby appears tense or frightened, it will not be from a natural fear of water. The likely cause would be the inadvertent transfer of the parent’s nervous tension or because the water temperature is uncomfortable, or baby is tired or hungry.
- The cue words “Ready, Go” act as the trigger which signals the baby and prepares them for the water pouring experience. Always remember to smile, praise and comfort your baby - this will help everyone to relax.
- Make bath time and shower time FUN! Toys add to the baby’s enjoyment and love for the water and allow them to feel at ease and can serve as distractions if needed.
Remember to take it slow, relax and smile. Use your trigger words and share in this exercise each day or night during bath time fun!
If you are unsure of any of this, wait until you are more confident and ask your instructor for more information. You will practise this during swimming lessons so once you feel more at ease with the process you can implement it at home.